Johnny Manziel almost transferred from Texas A&M last summer. Oh what would never have been… Photo: USA Today Sports
In the world of sports we always ask at times questions that begin with the words "What if?" What if Alabama had held on to beat Cam Newton and Auburn? What if Ohio State were eligible for postseason play last season? What if Penn State joined the Big East instead of the Big Ten? What if the Big 12 took Louisville instead of TCU? What if Jon Gruden accepted any of the 17 jobs he was supposedly just about to accept? Now we have a new question to throw in to the mix.
What if Johnny Manziel had followed through on a transfer out of Texas A&M?
Dallas Morning News reports it almost happened before Manziel took the college football world by storm en route to a Heisman Trophy and a grand SEC debut by Texas A&M last fall. Citing an anonymous source (love those guys, always full of juicy information), A&M had initially suspended Manziel for the start of the 2012 season as a punishment for an arrest that occurred over the summer. Manziel was arrested in College Station and jailed following a fight and for presenting a fake ID (two fake IDs, actually). Manziel had sat out the 2011 season with a red shirt and would have explored transfer options if he did not win an appeal on his suspension according to Dallas Morning News.
Manziel has since atoned for his involvement in the late night street fight, calling it a "critical mistake." Manziel entered A&M's summer camp as the likely back-up for the Aggies but as we all know by now new head coach Kevin Sumlin named him his starting quarterback and it was off to the races from there. He will enter the 2013 season the odds-on favorite for the Heisman Trophy this fall.
News about the possibility of Manziel transferring comes at an interesting time of course. Manziel recently tweeted his frustrations about his life in College Station, saying he could not wait to leave College Station. He quickly removed that tweet and suggested anyone criticizing him just "walk a day in my shoes." I for one would not mind giving it a try. Seems pretty nice.
Manziel's high profile has drawn plenty of attention to the red shirt sophomore, which is part of the reason given for his enrolling in online classes when possible. The good news, for A&M fans, is that Manziel is not going anywhere now unless he declares for the NFL Draft in 2014. But what if Manziel transferred? Where would he have gone? How would things have changed last season? Here are a few ideas…
Manziel transfers to Stephen F. Austin: Because the decision to transfer comes so late in the summer, Manziel is left with few options to choose from, leaving an FCS program as his best bet for now. Manziel walks in and wins the starting QB job at FCS Stephen F. Austin (What?) and his presence leads to the Lumberjacks coming up on the right side of a few close calls during the season against Montana State, Texas State, and McNeese State to turn what was a losing season in to a winning season. Manziel goes off against Sam Houston State but with no defense to slow down the eventual national championship game participants, Sam Houston State prevails.
Alabama runs a perfect season with victory over Texas A&M: Without the dynamic ability of Manziel, Sumlin's Aggies get pounded by the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa. Before the Aggies arrive to T-Town, A&M drops games against Ole Miss and Louisiana Tech along the way. Alabama maintains top BCS ranking and pummels second-ranked Notre Dame in BCS Championship Game (some things never change). Texas A&M still goes bowling but takes on Northwestern in Gator Bowl instead of Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl. Aggies pull through and wear down Northwestern, who blows a fourth quarter lead and these rings never happen.
Manti Te'o wins Heisman: Outside of Johnny Football hysteria, the biggest individual story in college football last fall was Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o. Te'o finished second in the Heisman running behind Manziel and if Manziel had transferred the odds are very good under this scenario he would not have been standing in the way of Te'o becoming the first defensive player since Charles Woodson in 1997 to win the sport's highest individual honor.
Manziel weighs FBS options: Having put together a good season with FCS Stephen F. Austin, Manziel begins pursuing options at the FBS level for 2013. Manziel catches the eye of Texas head coach Mack Brown, who is once again in need of a quarterback. Knowing he may have missed out once on Manziel, Brown goes in full pursuit of Manziel hoping it doesn't happen again (and he recruits him to play quarterback this time). Manziel checks out Tennessee, Ole Miss and Oklahoma State (who loses Wes Lunt to Illinois) but ultimately decides that he wants to come to Austin and becomes a Longhorn after all.